Despite slowing world economies, 3M Co. Tuesday reported a 3.2 percent jump in third-quarter earnings to $991 million, or $1.41 a share, beating analysts' average estimates by 3 cents a share.
The news sent 3M's shares up 4.4 percent, or $2.53, to $60.04.
Helping results was a 26 percent jump in Latin American sales; 8 and 9 percent sales gains in Europe and Canada, respectively, and double-digit revenue growth across three of 3M's six global business units: health care; safety, security and protection services, and industrial/ transportation.
3M's consumer and office division delivered a surprising 5.2 percent sales gain thanks in part to headway made with 3M's Filtrete air filters, Command wall-hooks, and other consumer products. Most consumer products companies are experiencing sales declines during these troubled economic times, analysts noted.
Total worldwide sales grew 6.2 percent to $6.6 billion, with the help of modest price increases that helped to offset still-high commodity prices that have only recently begun to stabilize, officials said.
Despite what CEO George Buckley called the "highly challenging economic environment," he credited 3M's diverse business portfolio for results and forecast that full-year 2008 earnings would grow 8.4 percent to 10 percent to $5.40 to $5.48 per share.
Slowing economies have prompted trims at the big manufacturer. 3M slashed 1,000 jobs across the United States, Europe and Asia. Most job cuts in Asia came from 3M's limping LCD screen-brightening films business, which faced tough pricing pressures and slowing demand for flat-panel TVs.
Job cuts aside, 3M "is in cash-preservation-and-build mode," Buckley said. "We have slowed capital expenditures, stopped all hiring in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Western Europe, except for replacing key sales and production positions," and halted U.S. acquisitions.
Dee DePass • 612-673-7725